From Page To Netflix: In the Heart of the Sea

In the Heart of the Sea is an adaptation of the book with the same name written by award-winning author Nathaniel Philbrick. Last week, I reviewed the book here, in case you missed it. But to make a long story short, I really liked it. The movie was originally released in theaters December 2015. However if you're like me, you don't often have time to go to the movies, so you wait until they're available on Netflix. And after reading this book, I was really interested to see what director Ron Howard had in store for audiences.

In the Heart of the Sea stars Chris Hemsworth (Thor, The Huntsman: Winter's War) and Benjamin Walker (Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter). Hemsworth plays the first mate, Owen Chase, on board the Essex. He's the more experienced whaler and expected to be made captain of the Essex, but is passed over for the less-experienced captain, George Pollard, who also happens to be related to the owners of the Essex. This oversight causes tension between the two sailors. Which doesn't help when the sh*t hits the fan.

One thing I liked about this movie is that the story is being told by Tom Nickerson (Brendon Gleeson) who was just a young, lowly crewman when the Essex made its infamous journey. I thought this was great since Philbrick got some of his information for the book from the journals of Tom Nickerson. Nickerson, many years after this incident, is an older man still haunted by the events that happen. He never talks about what happened to anyone, including his wife, until a writer--Herman Melville--shows up wanting the details of the fated voyage. Reluctantly, Nickerson tells his tale to a riveted Melville and with it, he starts to loosen the hold the past has on him.

I liked the acting and I thought the overall story arc of this movie was okay. The story took awhile to build, but once it got there, it was good. However, there were three major flaws that kinda disturbed the flow of the movie for me. The first flaw was special effects. They were not bad, but they weren't that great either. I expected better in this day and age. When I think of all the great movies that are set in the ocean--Pirates of the Caribbean, Life of Pi, Jaws--and how much better their effects were, it makes me wonder what the heck they spent their budget on.

The second thing was accents. I have a thing about accents. If you can't do it well, don't do it at all. The characters are from Nantucket. So they would have a pretty strong New England accents, but Hemsworth accent was all over the place. At times he sounded like Thor. I expected him to produce his mighty hammer at any time. Others times, he seemed to have a handle on the accent and it was okay. But the inconsistency of it made me dizzy.

The third flaw was the whale as the antagonist. In this ultimate man-versus-nature movie, I think they went overboard with having the whale follow them on their journey constantly antagonizing them. After all, the movie was thrilling enough without adding that in. They still had to face weather, starvation, dehydration, cannibalism, no nautical instruments or maps to guide their way. They really didn't need the revenge-seeking whale (other than for the original part the whale played in destroying the Essex.) They also didn't need the cheesy moment of "understanding" between Owen Chase and the whale toward the end of the movie.

As far as the book-to-movie adaptation goes, I would read the book. It's really good, but the movie isn't so bad either--despite my problems with it. I am glad that I waited to watch on Netflix instead of going to the theater. This movie isn't streaming yet, but you can get it on DVD if you subscribe to that plan.

Until Next Time, Happy Watching!